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Big Stars to Chair Annual Benefit

June 27, 2017

What do Joan Golder and Molly D’Esposito have in common? A long-standing relationship with North Shore Senior Center and a deep passion for its mission
and success.

Previous chairs of the Board of Directors and on countless committees, Molly and Joan are no strangers to diving in and working hard for what they believe in. They each agreed to chair this year’s benefit, Small Screen Big Stars, if the other one would. “We are a good team, and we work well together,” said Joan. “We have very different backgrounds but a mutual respect for each other and this place. This year, more than ever, the Center needs support to continue providing the services it does.” 

The unlikely pair share several things in common. They both grew up in Chicago and moved to Winnetka to raise their families. Both women have been members of the Center for many years and have worn many hats during their tenures. “I like to say we are part of the mutual admiration society,” Molly said.

A member of the Center since 1986, President Emeritus Joan Golder sits on the Resource Development and Marketing Committee and the Associate Board Steering and Strategic Planning Committee. She has chaired two past benefits, and also was chair of the capital campaign that enabled North Shore Senior Center to purchase the Northfield property. She currently is the first face visitors see at the Welcome Desk when they visit the Center on Tuesdays.

Past Board Chair Molly D’Esposito has been a member of the Center for 14 years. She started as a volunteer in Lifelong Learning and has chaired a previous benefit. Through the years, she has devoted her time and talents to many volunteer efforts within the Center, and she currently sits on the Resource Development and Marketing Committee, the Human Resources Committee, and the NSSC Foundation.

When asked why they agreed to take on the benevolent job of benefit co-chairs, they were quick to say that, as board members, they feel a responsibility to show passion for the Center. “Being on the Board of Directors is not about sitting around nodding your head; it’s about rolling up your sleeves and making a difference,” said Molly. Joan concurred, “We share the same philosophy about fundraising and what’s important for North Shore Senior Center.”

Molly and Joan have spent countless hours working with the Development and Marketing staff to ensure this year’s benefit is unique, a successful fundraiser for the Center, and a fun trek back in time for guests. The theme, Small Screen Big Stars, will hit home with the Center’s demographic and tug at memories from 1950s television. Think I Love Lucy, The Lone Ranger, Father Knows Best, Gunsmoke, The Honeymooners and Leave It to Beaver.

Known as the Golden Age of television, the 1950s was a time of remarkable achievement in television. In the early 1950s, most programming came from the networks and had to be broadcast live from local affiliates. Overlapping signals among nearby stations created chaos in some areas of the country, so the Federal Communications Commission instituted a freeze on licensing of new stations. Although the freeze didn’t affect large cities like New York and Los Angeles, many other cities around the country had only one station, and some had none at all. When the freeze was lifted in 1952, new stations were swiftly constructed and television truly became a mass medium. The 1952 presidential campaign was the first to be battled out on television. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s inauguration in 1953 was the first to air live coast-to-coast. For the first time, citizens could see and learn about the nation’s issues of the day from the comfort of their homes.

Until the mid-1950s, most television programming was broadcast live from New York City. Within a few years, the television production industry began moving to Los Angeles and live theatrical style was giving way to shows recorded on film in the traditions of Hollywood. Major Hollywood studios entered the television production business with Walt Disney and Warner Brothers supplying programming. Whereas 80 percent of network television was broadcast live in 1953, only 36 percent did so by 1960.

The changing nature of television’s audience also had an impact on programming through the 1950s. Television sets became less expensive and, after the freeze was lifted, hundreds of new stations were added across the country. In 1950, only 9 percent of American households had televisions; by 1959, that figure rose to 85.9 percent. The nature of programming would reflect the perceived tastes of this ever-growing and diversifying audience.

“We are thrilled to bring a benefit that showcases the actors and TV shows of our time. It’s different times right now. We need to do more with less, and we hope that hosting an event with such a connection to our members will bring a lot of folks out for a nostalgic evening,” said Molly.